Posts Tagged ‘baby crib mattress’

What’s ‘Greenwashing’ and How Can I Tell if Something is Really Green, Natural or Non-Toxic?

Thursday, January 5th, 2012


It’s time for New Year’s resolutions! The perfect time to get started on going green and natural and providing a healthy environment for you and your family – an environment free of toxic, or potentially toxic, chemicals. But embarking on such a journey can be confusing; you may have already experienced the let down of buying something that is labeled ‘green’, ‘natural’, ‘eco’, or ‘non-toxic’, only to find out that there’s very little difference between that product and its toxic competitors. That kind of marketing is now known as ‘greenwashing.’

‘Greenwashing’ is a relatively new term. It’s an adaptation of ‘whitewashing’, which is defined in Encarta as a “cover-up: a coordinated attempt to hide unpleasant facts, especially in a political context.”

The same dictionary defines ‘greenwashing’ as “bogus environmentalism: public relations’ initiatives by a business or organization, e.g. advertising or public consultation, that purport to show concern for the environmental impact of its activities.”

Examples of ‘greenwashing’ aren’t hard to find:

• Cosmetics that add a little aloe vera or Vitamin E and label their products ‘natural’, even though they have made no changes in the rest of their ingredients.

• Laundry detergents or cleaning products that add baking soda or enzymes to their products and display in big, bold letters on the box that they ‘clean with natural enzyme action’, but they fail to mention that they also contain phthalates, sodium laurel sulphate, and so on.

• With crib mattresses, and mattresses for adults, you might see something labeled as ‘eco-…’ or ‘soy-based’, giving you the idea that the foam they use is made from soybeans – what could be more natural? In fact, the soybean content is minimal, and the rest of the materials are the same as they used to be.

We couldn’t possibly put all the examples of ‘greenwashing’ in this blog, nor can we give you all the information on each chemical and its level of toxicity. But we can give you some information on where to find out this kind of information relatively quickly and easily. Here are some of our favorites resources:

Healthy Child Healthy World – A wealth of data, and a good search engine. Just type in the chemical you’re concerned about, or another question, and you’ll find answers.

Environmental Working Group – This site really keeps you up to date with what’s going on in the world of toxics and creating a safe home and environment. It also has a great menu system and search engine.

Cosmetics Database – This is a wonderful tool for information on the toxicity of the ingredients for cosmetics and personal care products – everything from baby shampoo to anti-aging serums. Lots of detail. You can use this database to find out about the healthiest choices in these kinds of products.

Home Safe Home and Toxic Free – Two excellent books by Debra Lynn Dadd. What chemicals to watch out for in what products, healthy alternatives, and more. Informative, complete, well-organized, fun and easy to read – you’ll want to read them cover to cover and keep them for easy reference.

As for baby crib mattresses and crib mattress bedding, check our website pages “What’s In” and “What’s Not In” for lists of the materials we use and don’t use, and why.

Of course, there are literally hundreds if not thousands of other sources of information, but with the few listed above, you should be able to find out just about everything you need to know. And they will help you cut through the greenwashing propaganda like a pro!

We’re looking forward to a happy, healthy, 2012 and wish the same for you and your family. Let’s make all our resolutions a reality!

How the Chemicals in Your Life Are Affecting Your Unborn Children

Sunday, May 30th, 2010


eliminate toxic chemicals if you're pregnantIf you’ve been reading our blog, or keeping up with news items (including a piece on 60 Minutes that aired just a week ago), you will know that many of the items in our everyday lives contain potentially harmful chemicals. This is even more of a problem for kids than adults, because kids’ bodies are still developing. But the problem starts long before the kids are born. In fact, it’s immediately after conception. Check out this resource that shows you exactly when and in what part of the body chemicals affect your unborn child.

The resource is a chart on the website of The Endocrine Disruption Exchange (TEDX). TEDX is a non-profit organization that studies the effects of low-dose exposure to endocrine disruptors, chemicals that effect fetal development and human health. These chemicals include, but are not limited to, bisphenol A (BPA), dioxin, and phthalates.

The chart is called Critical Windows of Development. It lists the various systems, organs and so on within the body and shows the stages of development during each weeks and trimesters in the womb. On the upper right of the chart, it shows checkboxes for ‘All Chemicals’, ‘Bisphenol A’, ‘Dioxin’, and ‘Phthalates’. Check ‘Phthalates’, for example, and red lines appear on the chart that show you which systems they affect, and at what period of pregnancy.

There are also little triangles on the chart that provide the names of studies that support the information.

One thing is clear: If we want to give our kids the best chance at being healthy as children and throughout their lives, expectant Mothers need to be free of these chemicals.

Pass this on to anyone you know who is pregnant, or may be in the future, so they can start doing something about it now.

What do they do about it? Eliminate the chemicals from their lives as much as possible. Many of our blog posts show you how to do that, and Debra Lynn Dadd’s book Home Safe Home has a wealth of information on what chemicals are in what products and suggestions on healthy alternatives. But, basically, just go organic, go toxin-free.

And once your baby is born, make sure you continue your toxic-free life. Get the baby a safe crib and baby crib mattress, made with non-toxic materials, swaddle them in organic cotton, feed them organic food, get them glass baby bottles and diapers and toys that are not made of harmful plastics or other potentially harmful chemicals.

Keeping Your Baby Safe at Bath Time

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010


safe bath and personal care products for kidsHaving your baby sleep on a Naturepedic baby crib mattress prevents exposure to many harmful chemicals, but exposure doesn’t end there. Check out this information on bath and personal care products.

While not every personal care product for babies and children contains harmful ingredients, two notable carcinogens that are by-products of the manufacturing and storage process are showing up in a majority of products tested by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, a coalition with several notable founding and sponsor members, including the Environmental Working Group. Parents should be aware of what these products are and how to avoid them.

The chemicals of concern are 1,4-dioxane (aka dioxane) and formaldehyde. They are not listed on labels because they are by-products, not ingredients.

Here’s the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics explanation of how they contaminate the products:

“Formaldehyde contaminates personal care products when common preservatives release formaldehyde over time in the container. Common ingredients likely to contaminate products with formaldehyde include quaternium-15, DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea and diazolidinyl urea.

“1,4-dioxane is a byproduct of a chemical processing technique called ethoxylation, in which cosmetic ingredients are processed with ethylene oxide. Manufacturers can easily remove the toxic byproduct, but are not required by law to do so. Common ingredients likely to be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane include PEG-100 stearate, sodium laureth sulfate, polyethylene and ceteareth-20.”

What Damage Can Be Caused by These Chemicals?

1,4-dioxane and formaldehyde are both known carcinogens.

1,4-dioxane has also been linked to damage to the central nervous system, liver and kidneys, and exposure has even been fatal to chemical workers. It readily absorbs into the bloodstream.

Formaldehyde can cause coughing, wheezing, watery eyes, itching, and skin irritations, has been linked to allergies and asthma in children, and to the development of leukemia as well as nose, lung, and brain cancer, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

The Test Results

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics tested 48 commonly used baby products including baby shampoos, bubble baths and baby lotions. Here’s a brief summary of what they found:

* 17 out of 28 products tested – 61 percent – contained both formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane.
* 23 out of 28 products – 82 percent – contained formaldehyde at levels ranging from 54 to 610 parts per million (ppm).
* 32 out of 48 products – 67 percent – contained 1,4-dioxane at levels ranging from 0.27 to 35 ppm

The Campaign acknowledges that using just one of these products might not be a problem – but several of them are used several times a week for years. Add that to toxic chemical exposure from other sources, and that’s quite a load for a little, not as yet developed body.

More Information on the Tested Products and Safer Alternatives

Check out the report on the study, No More Toxic Tub, for a full list of the products tested, the results for each (including which ones tested as safe), more details on 1,4 dioxane and formaldehyde, and additional data. It is an interesting and easy read.

If you’re looking for alternatives, check www.cosmeticsdatabase.com – a wonderful database that provides information on individual products. You can look for the safest products there as well seeing which ones you should avoid.

There are plenty of safe products out there for our kids, and you don’t have to be a chemist to find them. All it takes is a little education.

How Many Coils Does a Baby Crib Mattress Need?

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010


how many coils are needed in a baby crib mattressBased on some of the blogs and forums I’ve read, there seems to be a lot of confusion about the number of coils needed in the innerspring of a crib mattress. Some say more coils means more support, others say too many coils make a crib mattress too hard and uncomfortable. How are parents supposed to decide what’s best?

Although there are no hard and fast rules about coils, there are a few guidelines that might help.

First, let’s clear up the difference between ‘coils’ and ‘coil count’. A crib mattress, for example, may contain 150 coils. But the ‘coil count’ is listed as 420. What’s the difference? The figure ‘150’ is the number of actual coils in that crib mattress; the coil count, 420, is the number of coils that would be found in an equivalent mattress of full size. So, really, the only number you really have to pay attention to is the “150″ coils.

Next, there are questions about the relationship between the number of coils and the firmness of the mattress. While it is true that a mattress with more coils could be more firm, the number of coils isn’t the only factor on which firmness depends – it also depends on the gauge or thickness of the steel used to make the coils.

For example, a mattress with 250 coils that are made with the same gauge steel as a mattress with 150 will likely be a little more firm. However, if the 250 coils are made with higher gauge (thinner) steel than the 150 coils in the other mattress, there may be virtually no difference.

Firmness can also be affected by the other materials used to make the mattress so, really, the best way to judge whether a crib mattress is firm enough, or not, is covered in our blog, How Firm is Firm Enough for a Baby Crib Mattress?

But there is another factor to consider when you’re looking at coil count, and that is weight distribution. Fewer coils means that the baby’s weight won’t be distributed as evenly as mattresses with more coils. There are several crib mattresses on the market that have 80 coils. Obviously, that’s not going to distribute the baby’s weight as evenly as a mattress with more coils.

That said, the crib mattresses with only 80 coils are generally the least expensive and, frankly, as with other materials used to make a mattress, you get what you pay for.

Our baby crib mattresses start with 150 coils – which provides good weight distribution and, along with our other highest quality materials, also provides a firm, flat, comfortable and non-toxic environment just perfect for your baby.

Does Your Baby’s Crib Mattress Have Dust-mites?

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

High levels of dust-mite allergens are present in 50% of American homes – they cause several health problems, and they love to hide in your mattresses.

dustmites2A recent article in the Wall Street Journal, Does Mattress Cleaning Treat Dust-Mite Allergies?, prompted this blog post about dust-mites. They really are a big problem – at least half the homes in America contain enough dust-mite allergens to cause health problems. How do you get rid of those allergens? The answer to the question in the headline “Does Mattress Cleaning Treat Dust-mite Allergies” appears to be ‘no.’ And I’ll explain why. But, first, a little info about dust-mites.

Dust-mites are microscopic arachnids (same family as spiders) that live in dust. They hide in dark places like upholstered furniture, dust bunnies under couches and beds, in blankets, sheets, stuffed toys, mattresses – even your baby’s crib mattress.

Although they do bite, they generally they feed off dead skin cells and hair. However, their waste is usually the source of allergic reactions. In fact, up to 30% of people in the U.S. are allergic to this waste and even those who are not allergic can develop a sensitivity if there’s enough of the allergen in the environment. A recent study conducted by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences found that half the homes in the U.S. have enough of these allergens to trigger a sensitivity – which can have the same symptoms as an actual allergy.

What are the symptoms?

  • Asthma
  • Hay fever
  • Eczema
  • Itchy, watery eyes
  • Persistent stuffy nose or ears
  • Repeated sneezing upon awakening
  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose

Generally, the symptoms are worse at night and when you first wake up. And they improve when you’re out of the house.

There are various services available that clean mattresses to remove dust-mites. It costs about $50 for a twin mattress, more for larger sizes. One such service (using ultraviolet light) was tested and found to reduce the mites by 98%.

That statistic sounds good, but it’s only one test and, worse, the mites build up to their previous levels within a month, according to Peyton Eggleston, a pediatric allergist and professor emeritus at Johns Hopkins Children’s Hospital in Baltimore. At that rate, the average household (cleaning all their mattresses) would have to spend about $150 to $200 a month to get their mattresses cleaned – which is hard to fit into the average budget.

So, what are your other alternatives? For your baby, get a Naturepedic crib mattress with a waterproof covering made with food-grade polyethylene. Dust-mites cannot penetrate this covering, so all you have to do is wipe down the surface.

For your own mattresses, and for bigger kids, get an organic waterproof mattress pad or airflow sheet. These will provide dust-mite protection for the top of the mattress which is where the majority of the problem lies.

There’s nothing worse than sick kids – especially babies. Their under-developed immune systems need all the help they can get. Handle the dust-mite problem, and that will be one less thing you have to worry about.